From Refugees to American Dreamers.
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Thuba Nguyen, senior employment specialist at the International Rescue Committee, explains why school doesn’t have to be out of reach.

Please explain to me your role at the organization.

I help newly arrived refugees find employment.

And what kinds of employment services do you provide?

We provide an array of employment services, which includes helping them create résumés and cover letters as well as assisting clients do job searches.

Tell me about the financial aid workshop coming up.

The financial aid workshop will provide information to refugees who are interested in learning about how to apply to vocational schools and colleges and get financial aid. Many refugees who come to the U.S. are not familiar with navigating the bureaucratic process, so the presentations we have provide them with the basic understanding of how to do that. Once they attend the workshop, they are eligible to meet with an IRC Career Development staff to help fill out college and federal financial aid applications. There will be a presentation on Friday, February 24th from 2:00 – 5:00 pm that goes over all this and answer any questions they may have concerning enrollment into colleges.

Talk to me about the role of schooling in today’s economy and job market?

Currently because of lack of employment, many people are considering going back to school. There are training programs that provide vocational training and skills building for individuals who have been recently laid off and are interested in improving their skills. San Diego Continuing Education is a great source to gain training in certification programs such as computer, Heating Ventilation Air Condition, auto mechanic, etc. Most of these trainings are free or at very low cost.

What are the key pieces of information you’ll be presenting?

I will be presenting information on the college application process, financial aid, degree evaluation for foreign professionals with a bachelor’s degree, and the re-certification process for those who are interested in getting licensed in a profession in the U.S. This will be useful for foreign professionals such as doctors and engineers who want to know what the requirements are for getting licensed in the U.S.

Do you have any suggestions for further resources in case someone wants to learn more about how to fund their schooling?

Everyone interested in going to school should apply online for federal financial aid: www.fafsa.ed.gov

There’s also funding from the One Stop Career Centers in San Diego for certain types of vocational training. They can go on this web site to see which school is approved for training. http://etpl.edd.ca.gov/wiaetpltp.asp.

Any final bits of advice for someone looking to go back to school?

Do your research and figure out first where you want to go. Speak to the career counselor there or the graduate advisor—they will be able to provide you with what you need to do for your particular situation. This will be most helpful for those who have foreign degrees or education outside the U.S.

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